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Approaching Salary Questions at Interview: Cyber Security Recruiter’s Advice

Approaching Salary Questions at Interview: Cyber Security Recruiter’s Advice

It’s no secret that cyber security professionals are in high demand, and the increased awareness of competition for skilled individuals is only exacerbating the recruitment drive marketwide.

Companies are feeling the heat from cyber threats, and changes in legislation (do we need to spell out GDPR at this point?!) mean the repercussions of shoddy data management alone have a very real impact on the firm’s bottom line.

How could this impact your self-evaluation of your worth when pitching your skills for your next role? Positively, is I’m sure what most readers are thinking.

You would be right, for the most part job roles over the past few years have either sustained their average salary banding or increased. But how you negotiate salary especially if brought up in the early stages of the recruitment process can mean the difference between a positive job move and a negative one.

Someone meeting your expectations on salary is usually a good sign – but not in all cases. It’s important to be upfront about your aspirations but keep your head and look at the total package of what you’re getting yourself into before moving too quickly.

It goes without saying you ought to question why the current position has become available in the organisation you are applying to work within. If you are working for an end user organisation especially, you may want to consider asking about the management structure and the circumstances of the last person who left. If you are interviewing at a smaller organisation for which you may be the only, or part of a small team of information security staff you have to deliberate your own potential job security and their current internal policies and processes. Alarm bells ought to ring if the job is pitched above market rate but there has been a fast turnover of staff – they must not be investing correctly in something. Don’t become a scapegoat for existing poor management strategy.

So how can you avoid pitfalls and what do you need to be asking, and avoiding? I asked some of our recruitment consultants to get a view of how to approach salary questions during interviews to focus on getting the right information out of the interview – is this somewhere you want to work?

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU GIVE TO CANDIDATES AHEAD OF AN INTERVIEW REGARDING TALKING ABOUT SALARY AND PACKAGE – IF THE POTENTIAL EMPLOYER ASKS FOR IT?

 

“It depends on their experience level. If the interviewer is pushing it’s always best to set clear expectations and be open. If you’ve been put forward for the role from a recruiter they will have pre-vetted your expectations anyway, so you can expect that you are within the range of what the employer is willing to pay. It’s always important to refer back to the figure you have agreed with your recruiter, any subsequent negotiations between parties are then ensured to be on the same page”

Scott West – Principal Consultant

“Be open and honest, it sets a good example for what you would be like to work with. Any candidate seeking a position with a vendor should be able to negotiate. For effective negotiation, the onus is on the candidate to understand their worth in the market and set expectations accordingly. Salary shouldn’t be the driving force of changing role; and fortunately most vendors are quite flexible. Most will pay the right money for the right person.”

Matt Smith – Principal Consultant

“Be prepared for the question.  Be open and honest regarding current package, either set clients expectations or defer to Acumin.   (It’s usually easier to negotiate through a 3rd party, it avoids any confrontation between client and applicant.  At Acumin we are all trained negotiators) When setting clients expectations remember this is likely to be a negotiation, so allow some wriggle room.”

John Kobelt – Principal Consultant

IF YOU HEAR UPON THE CANDIDATES RETURN THAT THEY DISCUSSED THEIR CURRENT/PREVIOUS ROLES SALARY – WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS? DO YOU THINK IT CAN NEGATIVELY AFFECT THE CANDIDATE’S CHANCES?

 

“Detailed discussion on packages deflects from the core interview questioning about the role and its objectives. When being interviewed for a role (and interviewing for a new employee), the meeting of minds on cultural fit, relationship, objectives, skills and tactics should be the focus.

Also, without knowing the exact details of the overall package and its breakdown, a candidate cannot possibly give an accurate indication of what they would accept, unequivocally. Organisations, must allow the candidate time to digest for the details of the package, role and location (travel costs are a big party of the consideration), in order to state what they would accept the role on. This cannot be done in an interview situation where a package is discussed for the first time.

Best avoided, referred and deferred and let the recruiter do their job! It is after all, what we are paid for.”

Chris Batten – Operations Director

“If it was discussed then this is a good sign i.e. they would not ask for their salary if they weren’t interest in hiring them. It can be negative if the candidate focuses too much on the package (indicates they just want to move for money and will take another opportunity if it is more than what is on the table) nonetheless it is important to lay down their cards on the table earlier rather than later. That way there are no surprises which at the end could derail the process.”

Jamie Dalton – Vendor Team Lead